Drink Like a College Student: Bottom-Shelf Booze on the Rise

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Sign of the times: Liquor sales rose moderately in 2009, with the biggest growth among cheap brands like Popov vodka.

Sales of pricey top-shelf brands, meanwhile, fell as boozers turned to bargains. From the AP:

The amount of liquor sold by suppliers was up 1.4 percent in 2009 – the smallest increase since 2001 and below the 10-year average of 2.6 percent.

The lowest-priced segment, including brands such as Popov vodka, grew the fastest, with volume rising 5.5 percent, after edging up 0.6 percent in 2008. The most expensive brands, priced roughly $30 or more for a 750 ml bottle (think Grey Goose), fell the most, 5.1 percent.

Some drinkers also changed their shopping habits in 2009, utilizing the same bulk-buying strategy that helps them save on toilet paper, eggs, and milk:

Matt McCluskey, a 28-year-old researcher in Santa Monica, Calif., started buying most of his alcohol at the warehouse-style store Costco, trying to save money by buying bigger bottles. Now he spends $36 for 1.75 liters of Maker’s Mark bourbon, rather than $25 for less than half that at his local liquor store.

“It’s a lot harder to pour. That’s the only drawback,’’ he said.